The Foreign Office on Friday did not rule out the possibility of Pakistan importing oil and food products from Russia, saying the country has an “open policy” driven by the national interest to expand economic and trade relations.
“Our policy is clear, you know in terms of expanding economic and trade relations, we have an open policy, driven by national interest – wherever we see there is a national benefit we pursue those options and avenues,” Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar told a weekly news briefing.
He was responding to a question that whether Pakistan is considering importing oil and other food grains from Russia as neighbouring India has reduced oil prices after importing oil at discounted rates from Moscow.
The government on Thursday increased the oil prices by Rs30 per litre in order to meet the key International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) condition to revive the programme. The former prime minister strongly condemned the increase in oil prices, repeating his claims that if he was in power he would have reduced the prices since he was negotiating a deal with Russia to buy oil at discounted rates.
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The current government, however, insisted that there was no written agreement between Pakistan and Russia on the former premier’s claim and reports also suggested that Pakistan did not have the capacity to refine Russian crude oil.
With Pakistan facing a wheat shortage this season, there is a possibility that the government may import wheat from Russia, which is one of the top producers of food grain.
The foreign office spokesperson confirmed that Pakistan is in contact with Russia and other countries on the subject.
“There is a shortage of food grain in Pakistan. And there is a decision also to import a certain quantity of wheat utilising various options, international bidding and G2G options. In this regard, the government is in touch with friends and partners, and we are also in consultation with the Russian side on this subject,” Iftikhar added.
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Responding to a question about the press conference of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken where he talked about the threat posed by China, the spokesperson said Pakistan wanted a balanced relationship with all major powers.
“We want objective and balanced and broad-based relations with major powers and this includes the US and China and others, and we will continue to pursue that policy. So it is in that context, you see that we engage closely with China,” the FO spokesperson added.
“We are strategic partners, BRI, CPEC, and other initiatives are there, and the recent contacts with the United States, the engagement between the two foreign ministers is also indicative of the same desire of Pakistan and I would say of both our two countries to expand our relations on those lines – broad-based, mutually beneficial, of mutual interest and based on mutual respect, and I believe we will continue this policy, we think that this is in the best interest of Pakistan. And in principle, we always encourage major powers to adopt policies that are cooperative rather than confrontational.”